What Disneyland taught me about leadership over Spring Break

What Disneyland taught me about leadership over Spring BreakSpring Break — warm weather, excitement, memories, relaxation and sunshine. While countless students took this period to escape from studies, the First Ascent Scholars did quite the opposite. We spent our time learning and studying valuable leadership skills in the balmy weather of Southern California and had a chance to visit Disneyland.

We had the unbelievable opportunity of being the first group to be involved with Disney’s newly implemented leadership training program. We learned alongside Disney’s cast members, facilitators and show directors while also receiving a “behind the scenes” tour of Disneyland and the new building site of Star Wars Land. During this five-hour leadership training, the Scholars absorbed many valuable lessons that are essential to being an effective leader. Some of the key discussion topics included:

  1. What is your passion? What drives you in life? What motivates you? What do you strive to be like? What gets you out of bed every morning? What is your life passion? What do you day dream about?
  2. Why? Once you know what you’re passionate about, ask yourself “why?” Why are you passionate about what you’re passionate about? What about it gives you that drive?
  3. What do you value? Why do you value this specific passion? What are the values that back up this passion? What are your morals? Why are you passionate about these values/morals?

Although some may think that leadership is solely correlated with the job force, we were now able to reflect on a deeper level about how leadership is defined and how it correlates with real life situations. We discussed the significance of leadership in everyday life and how it’s related to every relationship, whether it’s the person you’re dating, a coworker or a friend.

“I’m a very binary person so I always thought leadership existed solely in the workplace, but Disney expanded my line of thinking to everywhere,” said First Ascent Scholar Natalie Lam.

Being part of this newly implemented training program empowered me to look deeper into my values and find what I’m most passionate about in life. I never truly recognized what my deepest passions were, or why I was passionate about them, so this program definitely helped me to dig deeper into myself.

I think the biggest takeaway I received from the leadership training was to step out of my comfort zone. It is something I really struggle with, which may be why I had a more challenging time realizing my true passions. The facilitators of this training helped me realize that in order to find your passions, you have to come out of your shell.  As Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”


After the inspiring Leadership Training Program Disney provided us with, we were able to enjoy the beautiful weather while exploring the attractions at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.

The rest of our trip involved exploring the Santa Monica pier, sitting and eating pizza during the sunset on the beach, exploring intricate architecture at the Getty Museum, touring tech company Cornerstone on Demand, getting the opportunity to do a “behind-the-scenes” tour of Warner Bros Studio and being able to stroll down the streets of Hollywood. It was a fantastic experience and one that will stay with us throughout our professional lives.

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